American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials

Last Updated: September 3, 2020

Definition - What does American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials mean?

The American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials is the original/founding name of ASTM International, an international testing organization that publishes consensus technical standards for a variety of materials, products, and services.

ASTM was founded under its former name in 1898, and is one of the oldest standards organizations in the world.

Although ASTM standards are technically voluntary, many of them are legally mandatory in various jurisdictions that formally reference them in applicable government safety laws and regulations.

Safeopedia explains American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials

The American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials was founded in 1898 by Charles Dudley, a chemist, to address the increasingly prominent issue of railways breaking down. By standardizing the manner in which rail quality was tested, this group endeavored to ensure that railways could meet a minimum level of dependability. This would reduce both the amount of safety risk and the amount of commercial risk associated with rail transport.

The organization changed its name to the “American Society for Testing Materials” in 1902, and changed it again to the “American Society for Testing and Materials” in 1961 (emphasis mine). Most recently, the organization changed its name to ASTM International in 2001, a change which signaled its expansion towards being a more internationally-focused organization.

ASTM is one of the most recognized standards organizations in the world, and both governments and businesses alike commonly reference them to enforce regulations and contracts, respectively. OSHA, for example, explicitly relies upon ASTM F-2413-2005 ("Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective Footwear") in its foot safety standard (OSHA 1910.136).

Businesses also commonly mandate compliance with ASTM standards as part of contracts with third parties. This is done in order to reduce the likelihood of a safety incident arising from use of the third party’s services, as well as to create a standardized measurement by which they can hold a third party liable should their services fail to meet their contractual obligations.

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